Girls Basketball Top 10 (Jan. 23)
1-St. John Vianney (12-1, 9-0) Last week: 1
The Lady Lancers solidified their place atop the B North standings with three convincing divisional wins over Ocean, Middletown North and Matawan. The matchups gave St. John Vianney the opportunity to extend increased minutes to worthy reserves while sharpening its defensive chops, which lowered its season average to a mere 28.6 points per game. Senior forward Sajada Bonner (12.3 ppg.) pumped in a season-high 23 on Tuesday as the Lancers blitzed Matawan, 66-26. They face Wall on Thursday before taking on defending Non-Public B state champion Saddle River Day on Sunday at the Coaches Choice USA Shore Conference NJ/NY Challenge at Holmdel.
2-St. Rose (13-0, 9-0) Last week: 2
The pacesetter in the rugged A Central, St. Rose withstood a challenge from No. 5 Red Bank Catholic on Tuesday night. The Purple Roses were briefly in unfamiliar territory, trailing, 11-7, before outscoring the Caseys, 45-32, over the balance to secure a 52-43 triumph. Off to its best start since ’14-’15 when it began 25-0 and finished 32-2 and runner-up to Manasquan in the Tournament of Champions, St. Rose, which also toppled National Christian (Md.), 66-52, on Saturday, is getting superior guidance of sophomore guard Abby Antognoli, who disperses to junior swing Brynn Farrell (20.3 ppg.) and senior shooting guard Lauren Lithgow (11.9 ppg.) and staunch defense from lengthy 5-11 senior Sam Mikos. St. Rose has a busy non-conference weekend in store, hosting Lincoln on Friday night and catching Albertus Magnus (NY) in the Coaches Choice USA Shore Conference NJ/NY Challenge on Sunday.
3-Manchester (13-2, 9-0) Last week: 3
The Hawks ran their win streak to five while firming their position for a second straight outright B South crown. Senior forward Dakota Adams averaged 13.6 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2.6 steals and 3.0 blocks while senior guard Leilani Correa clicked for 12.6 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 2.3 steals in victories against Jackson Liberty, Lacey and Pinelands. Manchester tackles Long Island Lutheran on Sunday at the Coaches Choice USA Shore Conference NJ/NY Challenge in Holmdel.
4-Manasquan (11-3, 8-1) Last week: 4
Playing without leading scorer Lola Mullaney and versatile junior swing Kate Leturgez on Tuesday night, the Warriors leaned on the broad, capable shoulders of senior Faith Masonius to rally past No. 7 Rumson-Fair Haven, 48-44. The 6-1 Maryland recruit compensated for the absences by delivering a career-high 34 points and 19 rebounds in helping Manasquan to its third win in a row. After a visit to Holmdel on Thursday, the Warriors will turn their sights toward a meeting with the Patrick School on Sunday at the Coaches Choice USA Shore Conference NJ/NY Challenge.
5-Red Bank Catholic (9-5, 6-3) Last week: 5
Unyielding defense (42.2 ppg.) continues to be the Caseys’ calling card and kept it close with No. 2 St. Rose on Tuesday before ultimately bowing, 52-43. Sophomore point guard Sophia Sabino keeps everyone involved on the offensive end with her penetrating curiosity and creative distribution while its towering corps of 6-0 junior Fab Eggenschwiler, 6-2 freshman guard Justine Pissott, 6-4 freshman center Ally Carman and 6-2 junior center Nicole Stanford actively occupies space under the glass. No rest for the weary…RBC travels to surging No. 7 Rumson-Fair Haven on Thursday and draws defending Group 4 champ and TOC runner-up Franklin on Sunday at the Coaches Choice USA Shore Conference NJ/NY Challenge.
6-Middletown South (12-1, 8-0) Last week: 6
The Eagles are soaring, winners of nine straight based on how evenly they distributed the scoring weight and the unified manner in which they defend (37.9 ppg.). Senior forward Eve Pirie posted her first double-double of the season Tuesday night with 10 points and as many rebounds as Middletown South put four players in double figures during a 64-33 victory against Howell. Playmaking senior Isla Brennan is not only averaging 8.5 points and 3.2 assists per game, the 5-7 point guards is also the team’s leading rebounder (7.4 rpg.). A big test awaits on Saturday with a road game at No. 7 Rumson-Fair Haven.
7-Rumson-Fair Haven (9-5, 5-4) Last week: 9
Seems like each week a warning has been issued to beware of the Dawgs. Opponents may soon be heeding that advice. Rumson stormed past No. 8 Marlboro, 58-34, on Saturday at the Slam Dunk Autism Challenge behind 18 points and 13 rebounds from junior forward Lucy Adams and 10 points and 10 boards from sophomore guard Cortland McBarron. On Tuesday, despite playing without sophomore point guard Grace Munt, the Bulldogs gave No. 4 Manasquan all it could handle, bowing 48-44. More heavy lifting is on the horizon. It hosts No. 5 RBC on Thursday and No. 6 Middletown South on Saturday.
8-Marlboro (11-4, 6-1) Last week: 7
The Mustangs rebounded from their loss to No. 7 Rumson-Fair Haven by racing past Manalapan, 87-43, on Tuesday. The arc remains the area that lights the offensive spark. Marlboro has canned 155 threes (10.3 per game) but perhaps more impressive is that nine sources have contributed to the sum. Freshman Danielle Schlesinger (27), junior Sam Nocco (23), sophomore Jessica Riepe (23), sophomore Sammy Jay (20), senior Theresa Besso (19), sophomore Laura Morehead (17) and senior Gisella Romeo (16) comprise the bulk of the Stangs’ stockpiled perimeter army.
9-Colts Neck (10-4, 8-1) Last week: 10
Winners of four straight, the Cougars haven’t just been winning but doing so in emphatic style. They downed Neptune, Ocean, Red Bank and Allentown by an aggregate margin of 54.5 to 31.2. Colts Neck’s defense (36.2 ppg.) has bordered on unflinching, conceding no more than 41 points over its last six outings. Junior guard Camryn Foltz has been tough to contain, striking for 19 or more points during the current winning streak and burying nine 3-pointers within that span.
10-Toms River North (11-3, 8-1) Last week: 8
Tough week for the Mariners, who fell to crosstown rival Toms River East, 51-43, on Thursday and Notre Dame, 49-41, on Saturday. They snapped the losing spell courtesy of a 60-31 performance against Brick that featured senior forward Jenna Paul registering her eighth double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds and senior point guard Brielle Bisogno injecting energy at both ends with 13 points and six steals. Toms River North still tops the A South, a game clear of pursing Toms River East.
On the bubble
Toms River East (9-4, 7-2): The Raiders are pounding in the door of the Top 10, demanding consideration for entry after upending No. 10 Toms River North, 51-43, to avenge an Opening Night loss. Senior guard Kamryn Lister (12.6 ppg.) is on a blistering tear, averaging 18.0 during East’s current four-game win streak.
Donovan Catholic (12-3, 8-1): A 53-28 loss to state power Trenton Catholic on Saturday ended a run of nine successive wins but the Griffins bounced back to down Barnegat, 39-28. The well-round game of junior point guard Paige Slaven, inside presence of 5-11 junior Jayda Kearney and 5-9 senior Nalah Tinsley and the steady growth of sophomore guard Jordyn Keating speak to its promise.
Jackson Memorial (8-5, 6-2): After a seesaw opening month, the Jaguars are on an uptick, riding a three-game win streak. Senior forward Dani Evans has been practically unstoppable both as a finisher and rebounder, sophomore Rachel Capua and juniors Kristina Donza and Mackenzie Dakin are all capable scorers and junior point guard Bianca Giordano lives to make the ideal pass, sprinkled with creative flair.
Red Bank (9-5, 6-3): The Bucs have lost two straight, falling to Lodi Immaculate and No. 9 Colts Neck, yet remain a dangerous crew when at full strength. Senior Meghan Murray embodies the smarts and athleticism that permeates through this cast.
Freehold Twp. (9-5, 5-3): The Patriots countered a 50-45 loss to Howell on Opening Night by scoring a 53-42 decision in the rematch on Friday. Sophomore center Hannah Orloff is the proud owner of 13 doubles, averaging 18.2 points and 12.7 rebounds a contest.